Nfld. & Labrador

Celebrities join Newfoundland man in spreading positivity for mental health

Keith Muise wants to spread positivity, one shirt at a time.

Keith Muise started the 80s Summer Camp after the Fort McMurray wildfires in 2016

Keith Muise — pictured with his son, Kimble — created the 80s Summer Camp initiative in 2016. (80s Summer Camp/Facebook)

When Keith Muise started the 80s Summer Camp initiative in 2016, he was in need of positivity.

"For me it was kind of like a sink or swim kind of thing. A fight or flight, I guess," said Muise, from his home in Fort McMurray, Alta.

Muise, who is originally from Stephenville, N.L., lost both his father and grandmother to cancer in a 13-month span.

Then the forest fires started.

To make matters worse, his father-in-law died four days after the devastating fire began. 

He created 80s Summer Camp on social media as a way to cope with all of that trauma.

He also wanted to be able to spread joy and positivity on social media — which he has, with big name celebrities sharing his positive message and wearing 80s Summer Camp shirts.

The page helps people show their creativity through photos, videos and music in an effort to spread positivity online, and to promote mental health awareness.

There are dozens of posts every day, with words of kindness and encouragement. 

"Social media is really ripe with negative things," Muise said. "If you want to find negative things, it's not hard to find. So I just decided whatever I'm going to do online, in real life, is all going to be positive."

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      Although there is no physical summer camp, Muise said the name was inspired by movies of his childhood.

      "I still love watching '80s movies, The Goonies and all those cool, old, enthusiastic movies," Muise said. "What sort of encompasses my personality? It's like the '80s summer camp movie, where everybody's wired on energy."

      The pages have about 22,000 followers combined, with people from all over the world posting.

      "Hearing those messages from people who are saying, you know, 'I was really struggling and I stumbled upon your Facebook page and love what you guys are doing,' Stuff like that … that's a pretty good payoff."

      Reaching far and wide

      Over the last two summers, Muise has brought 80s Summer Camp outside social media. He and others have hosted live events, including one in Stephenville. They include a variety concert, encouraging locals to perform and spread creativity in their own way.

      One of the ways many people spread positivity is through the '80s Summer Camp t-shirt, which Muise considers a "Superman cape."

      Muise uses the money from selling the shirts to make even more shirts, which have been sent all over the world, including to different actors, musicians and athletes.

      "A lot of them I've been blown away by. People [I loved] growing up like Donovan Bailey, gold medal winner, I was like, what? This is great!'"

      With any summer camp comes a T-shirt. Muise has sent shirts all over the world, including to celebrities like Donovan Bailey, Mark Hamill, Alan Doyle and Hayley Wickenheiser. (80s Summer Camp/Facebook)

      Some celebrities have connected with Muise personally, sending photos of them wearing the shirts on social media. Muise said the gesture is always appreciated, as it helps spread the positive vibes on social media. However, there is no pressure to make a post — just knowing people have them is all he needs.

      "We sent one to Mark Hamill from Star Wars, which was pretty huge. I was like, 'That's Luke Skywalker!' And I was pretty blown away by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau from Game of Thrones. That was pretty sweet."

      Muise said the initiative will continue to grow, with plans for an actual summer camp in the future. There is no specific age group he is trying to target with his posts, but getting youth is especially important to him.

      "If you tell someone they're awesome enough, they'll start believing it. And when you believe in yourself, you're going to go out and do cool things."

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